Everyone enjoys being entertained, thrilled or scared. Reality, crime and teen drama are all forms of escape from the banalities of everyday life.
The history of television may be traced back to the 1920s and 30s (See Wikipedia). However, the first TV programs only became available to mass audiences in the USA and Great Britain during the late 1940’s. Technological advancement since then has crossed international boundaries and brought TV into homes all over the world. TV viewing became a global activity, and the cultural impact television has had on western society has ever since been enormous. Societies have changed in step with TV series demonstrating how others think, live and behave. As radio and TV viewing became more and more popular, public concern grew over the harmful influences of inappropriate material being broadcasted. Under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Congress passed the Communications Act of 1934, creating the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate radio, telegraph, and telephone communications. Today this also includes interstate telecommunications, satellite, and cable.
The Onset of Decency Standards
Decency standards were developed prohibiting indecency, obscenity, and profanity. In 1952 the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters 1 adopted a code to regulate broadcast content and set up guidelines. From the 1960’s as social morals changed and “freedom of speech” as laid down by the 1st Amendment 2 became the catchword of the times, the boundaries of what could be shown on TV have moved. Viewer ratings became and still are the controlling factor. Over the years huge TV networks such as NBC, CBS, BBC, ITV, Sky, and Disney Channel have vied with each other for popularity. Marketing research analysts have been employed to map viewer trends according to demographics such as gender, age, education, income, location etc. The more viewers watching certain types of series the more money earned by the networks and products sold by sponsors.
TV Show Categories
A quick internet search of current international TV program listings demonstrates that TV series can be placed into the following categories: crime, drama, reality, including extreme reality programs, documentaries, soap operas, comedy sit-coms, game shows, dance competitions, talent shows, talk shows, news and sports. Most globally transmitted series have originated either in the USA or Great Britain. TV networks in other English speaking countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa) have either bought the same series or copied them, thus adding local flavor.
Although today’s media preferences among teenagers include: the internet, gaming, mobile phones, as well as TV. Television producers around the world know for a fact that teenagers have more time to spend time in front of a computer or watching TV than an average adult; therefore teens are a great focal group for many programs and series. The first big question then to ask is what makes certain series so popular? The second question is what impact do the series have on our culture and on individuals? A look at three of these categories may give some answers.
Early TV series seemed to be interested in educating people as well as entertaining them. And many reality series still have education in mind.
Reality Series - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Another category of popular TV series often not shown prime time ( 6PM-10PM), depending on the country, are crime series.
Crime on TV - To Catch a Killer at all Costs
Two categories which overlap are soap operas and drama series.
From Soap Operas to Teen Drama
Everyone enjoys being entertained, thrilled or scared. Reality, crime and teen drama are all forms of escape from the banalities of everyday life. We enjoy seeing life through another person’s eyes. There is a strong sense of action taking place on the screen. Drama series lead to what the Greeks called catharsis, or a cleansing of emotions, when we watch. But not all TV is good TV. One should remember that TV producers love to spark controversy and all PR (Public Relations) is good PR, even bad PR. The number of websites and blogs connected to these series vouch for this. While teens from English speaking countries have a lot in common, they also influence teens around the world. They also have immense buying power, something the advertisers who sponsor the series are quite aware of. TV is undeniably a valuable tool for influencing value systems and behavior. The question is what kind of a society do we want to live in both now and in the future?